This morning, a terrifying emergency alert was sent to everyone in Hawaii, warning them of an incoming ballistic missile attack. It wasn't until 38 minutes later that officials finally confirmed that the alert was a mistake, and the public was in no danger.
The outrage and hysteria was understandable. People of Hawaii reported their experiences, their shock, and their disbelief when the whole thing turned out to be a technical error. The event cause cognitive dissonance across the islands — people were shaking with adrenaline and suddenly it was called off.
Of course, Twitter blew up with reactions, not just from the Hawaiian people, but all Americans who were horrified by the idea of such a grave mistake. Parents talked openly about how to explain such an emotional roller coaster to their kids, while officials swore that they would make it right.
NO missile threat to Hawaii.— Hawaii EMA (@Hawaii_EMA) January 13, 2018
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency got their tweet out in a relatively timely fashion, though residents who didn't follow the account were left in terror for a while until the official alert went out.
STATEMENT: While I am thankful this morning’s alert was a false alarm, the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future.— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) January 13, 2018
I am meeting this morning with top officials of the State Department of Defense and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to determine what caused this morning’s false alarm and to prevent it from happening again.— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) January 13, 2018
Gov. David Ige promised to "get to the bottom" of the mistake, though no official internal investigation has been announced. Many residents feel that he should apologize to the people of Hawaii as well.
The @FCC is launching a full investigation into the false emergency alert that was sent to residents of Hawaii.— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) January 13, 2018
Meanwhile, embattled FCC director Ajit Pai was prompt in promising a "full investigation" by the FCC.
For many people, it was those 38 minutes of unimaginable fear that made this, in a way, its own sort of national tragedy.
False alarm. But for all the other misfires and rogue sirens here, what does it say that we live in a time where we have to assume it's possible? Still shaking. #MissileThreat— Ryan Ozawa (@hawaii) January 13, 2018
It was nice knowing you all. pic.twitter.com/ybi5j9rXex— Ainsley (@ainsleycd) January 13, 2018
Can y’all give some more details on this? Why was this message sent? Was there a missile but it veered in a different direction or something? Transparency please!— Pris Blossom (@PrisBlossom) January 13, 2018
There seems to be a consensus in conversations surround the alert that the Hawaiian government owes its people a detailed explanation of the mistake, if for nothing else except peace of mind.
This was my phone when I woke up just now. I'm in Honolulu, #Hawaii and my family is on the North Shore. They were hiding in the garage. My mom and sister were crying. It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken. @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/m6EKxH3QqQ— Sara Donchey (@KPRC2Sara) January 13, 2018
For 38 minutes American citizens in Hawaii braced for a ballistic missile strike ... and @realDonaldTrump continued his round of golf in Florida on his 120th taxpayer funded vacation day in less than a year. https://t.co/tSSSNiDLDk— Col. Morris Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) January 13, 2018
I predict a Hawaiian baby boom 9 months from now. https://t.co/nuvQQo8bk7— shauna (@goldengateblond) January 13, 2018
Finally, it's worth noting that it can be difficult to make jokes on a subject like this, but it's often the beginning of the healing process.